Purpose: The amount of information required for an allied health professional has increased dramatically. In-class practice time and large amounts of practice materials may be difficult for instructors to acquire. Mental practice is a method of practice that does not involve physical movement or materials. This study investigated the effect of mental practice, physical practice, and a combination of mental and physical practice on kinesiology students learning three manual muscle tests.

Method: Fifty-six students aged 18 to 26 years (M = 20.09, SD + 1.58), pursuing a degree in kinesiology with an emphasis in either athletic training or kinesiotherapy participated in this study. Participants underwent two days of practice that included either mental practice, physical practice, or a combination of mental and physical practice for three Manual Muscle Tests (MMTs). Approximately 48 hours later, participants completed a post-test of the MMTs that was evaluated by two trained examiners. Participants also completed a survey related to demographics, difficulty of the MMTs, and intentions for using mental practice.

Results: The MMT post-test ANOVA revealed no significant learning differences between groups for all three Manual Muscle Tests. There were no significant differences in Manual Muscle Tests difficulty ratings between groups; however, there was a significant difference in participants’ difficulty ratings across the Manual Muscle Tests. A majority of participants indicated they would use mental practice in the future.

Conclusions: The results indicated that kinesiology students seemed to learn equally well regardless of practice type. Utilization of mental practice in or outside of the classroom may be a strategy to supplement student learning in situations where class time and/or resources for physical skill practice may be more difficult to obtain.

Author Bio(s)

Melanie E. Perreault, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Motor Behavior in the Department of Kinesiology, Sport Studies, and Physical Education at The College at Brockport, State University of New York.

Christopher Brown, PhD, LAT, ATC, CSCS, is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Athletic Training in the Department of Applied Physiology & Kinesiology at the University of Florida.

Robert J. Doan, PhD, is Director of Graduate Program in the College of Education at Charleston Southern University.

David R. Dolbow, PT, DPT, PhD, RKT, is an Associate Professor of Physical Therapy in the School of Physical Therapy at William Carey University.





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